Few workplaces were as merciful as Greater Cincinnati’s schools Tuesday night. Despite the polar vortex pushing temperatures far below zero, adults throughout the area — including those whose jobs are outdoors — will bundle up and go to work Wednesday morning.
“We have to feed our families, so we have to come in,” construction worker Arun Sharma said.
Sharma operates hoists for 10 hours each day from inside a steel cage, sometimes standing on a piece of Styrofoam so his toes don’t freeze. He expects Wednesday to be interesting.
“There comes a point where they have to shut it down,” Sharma said. “I know cranes can’t work in anything less than 10 degrees. My lift, it’ll work in cold weather, just not 45-mile wind.”
Also working outside will be more than 500 Rumpke garbage and recycling collectors, company spokeswoman Molly Yeager said. They may be slightly late depending on whether their trucks will start in the early morning cold, but they plan to hit the road as usual everywhere but within the city of Cincinnati. (The company has to follow the city's lead, according to Yeager, so collection will be delayed by one day.)
Rumpke will give them hand- and foot-warmers to fend off some of the cold, Yeager added.
“They’ll be properly trained in the morning to make sure that every ounce of skin is covered up as much as it can be,” she said.
In Over-the-Rhine, the anti-poverty nonprofit Maslow’s Army handed out some of the same protections — coats, socks, gloves and hats — to over 100 homeless people. Miranda Horsely, who is experiencing homelessness and received some items of her own, later helped distribute more.
"When the van pulled up, you seen it in their face that they were getting something and that they were going to be okay," she said. "Even if it’s for today and maybe tomorrow, they’re okay for now.”
A Maslow's Army partnership with Gabriel’s Place will help even more.
“The ultimate goal is to save lives,” Gabriel’s Place executive director Lisa Craig said Tuesday night. “We want to get people inside and out of the bitterly cold temperatures we’re expecting tomorrow.”
The Avondale organization will provide indoor shelter, hot meals and entertainment available to anyone who visits its 3618 Reading Road headquarters 6 a.m. — 6 p.m., she added. After 6 p.m., they will be able to take free transportation to a winter shelter.
Community representatives will be on hand to help any unemployed visitors with their resume writing and job placement worries.
“I can’t save everyone,” Craig, a nurse, said. “But to be able to let one person know that there is hope (and) there are people in the city who love and care for them makes all the difference in the world to me. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to serve.”
Anyone else expecting to spend time outside Wednesday should stay hydrated, wear a wind-proof outer layer and put on thick boots with foam pads, if available.